This review first appeared in the Sunday Star-Times, 26th October 2014
Brad Pitt plays it serious with a small band of brothers comprising an equally good Shia LeBeouf and a gradually maturing Logan Lerman (The Perks of Being a Wallflower) as American soldiers fighting the Nazis as WWII draws to an end. It’s one of those awful situations where the audience knows it’ll all be over in months but for the tank platoon it’s just another day, another German town to be brought to its knees.
As hearts harden and eyes grow deader by the day, the troops play out quite fascinating tactical manoeuvres, accompanied by a terrific soundtrack. Without labouring the characters’ backstories, we’re given a real sense of what war does to a man. As Pitt’s Sergeant puts it: “Ideals are peaceful, history is violent”, and the brutal scenarios of war are sobering in their pragmatism – the R16 is earned but there’s no need for gratuitous violence in this action movie.
Director David Ayer wrote the Oscar-winning Training Day so he knows all about men with callused souls driving around all day from one claustrophobic set-piece to the next. One particularly tense scene expertly ties your stomach in knots, while the final showdown, although predictable, is nothing short of gripping.